WHY I LOVE TRAIL

Trail Running (UK) - - Contents -

Ra­dio’s Vas­sos Alexan­der

Known to mil­lions as the sports pre­sen­ter on BBC Ra­dio 2’s Chris Evans Break­fast Show, Vas­sos Alexan­der of­ten runs in to the stu­dio for the early starts. A rel­a­tive new­comer to the world of off-road run­ning, he has still com­pleted the 153-mile Spar­tathlon and South Downs Way 100, and has also clocked a sub-three-hour marathon time. Last year he at­tempted the Dragon’s Back Race in Wales, too. Run­ning in na­ture seems to con­nect me very strongly to where I am. That’s true even when I’m run­ning in a smelly city street, but espe­cially so in na­ture. I can run over hills which have prob­a­bly been run on hun­dreds and hun­dreds of years ago. I love the feel­ing of just be­ing out­side, be­ing un­com­fort­able. We live such cos­seted lives and when you’re out­side and you’re run­ning and you’ve got to adapt – I love that.

My in-laws live in the South Downs and I love go­ing to visit, not just be­cause I love my in-laws,

but also be­cause I love run­ning in the Downs. The Juras­sic Coast of Dorset would def­i­nitely also be up there on a list of my favourite trails. One of my favourite ever runs was in the Isle of Wight, the downs there. But any­where new and beau­ti­ful. I love run­ning in the Alps as well.

The Dragon’s Back was kind of

a life high­light. I was quite new to moun­tains and it was star­tlingly fan­tas­tic, breath­tak­ing, a beau­ti­ful and bru­tal in­tro­duc­tion to the joys of moun­tain run­ning and I am ut­terly hooked. I can’t wait for 2019. I’m gut­ted it’s only ev­ery two years be­cause I can’t wait to give it a proper crack – with­out a dodgy an­kle – in 2019. In di­rect contrast to the Dragon’s Back race, the Spar­tathlon trail it­self

was noth­ing spe­cial, al­though there is a 4,000ft moun­tain to climb at night, so it’s not en­tirely on the road. But the peo­ple and the his­tory and the at­mos­phere sur­round­ing that race were truly colos­sal, ut­terly epic – from the first mile un­der the Acrop­o­lis in Athens as dawn breaks, to the 153rd mile, 30 hours later, where you kiss the foot of the statue of Leonidas. Ev­ery sin­gle step along the way was awe-in­spir­ing.

I run in a pair of Salomons, the only thing that was cur­rently avail­able in my size in the shop. I’m quite fussy in my road shoes, in that I just have the same road shoes ev­ery time, but with trail shoes I don’t have the ex­pe­ri­ence or the skill to be fussy.

I am thrilled when any­one says they’ve taken up run­ning be­cause of some­thing I or Chris [Evans]

has said on the show. So, I don’t re­ally care about me, my times. It’s more about spread­ing the love, spread­ing the word. Also, there’s not much pres­sure on me be­cause I’m not a par­tic­u­larly good run­ner and I’m not a par­tic­u­larly bad run­ner. I can break three hours in a marathon, but that’s noth­ing spe­cial, and I can fin­ish a Spar­tathlon, so I sup­pose I have rea­son­able en­durance, but I don’t feel I have any­thing to prove or dis­prove. It’s not about me, it’s about the sport.

Vas­sos Alexan­der’s new book, Run­ning Up That Hill: The Highs and Lows of Go­ing that Bit Fur­ther, is out now.

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